By Nora Zelevansky / March 18th, 2009

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The Best Link Today:

In my humble opinion, Blackburn + Sweetzer has a few MUST-READ posts on her blog this week:

First, she totally links to THE POCKET LINT Spicy Tofu Stew story today, so she obviously knows a good thing when she sees it.

Second, she checked out La Terza's new less-expensive, more down home Italian incarnation Minestraio (Exhibit A, above) in a timely manner.

Third, Malia Mills is offering B + S readers $50-off her amazing suits (which, FYI, I absolutely swear by). Mills designs the best bathing suits for chestier girls particularly; she somehow morphs amazing styles that would normally be obscene or just wrong-all-the-way-home into totally flattering and wearable (and not cheesy or too bra-esque).

I know I sound like an ad, but I really do love her, and often when I'm in NYC I head over to her showroom, where on Tuesdays you used to be able to buy suits for wholesale or at least cheap. (Well, cheap-er.  These well-made puppies are expensive, which is why every $50 counts.)  Seems like "the outlet" is closed for now, but maybe it'll reopen soon?  Keep an eye on the site!

Fourth, B + S blogs about the soon-to-be-arriving Chloe on Melrose and Corner Bakery right in our hood.  Of course, I'm equally, if not more, excited about the Staples opening on La Cienega next door.  Now I officially never have to get in my car during the day again (sorta).

Long live writerly agoraphobia! (Or at least deep seeded fear of annoying parking situations and traffic.  Actually, probably more accurately, long live my NYC roots!)

xo – N.


By Nora Zelevansky / March 18th, 2009


(Signature Spicy Tofu Stew From Tofu Ya)

My father has a gift.  Well, it's more like curse.  Like that infamous nursing home cat who gravitates towards residents just before they die (who's creepy legacy seemingly inspired this week's House episode), my father falls in love with restaurants just before they, inevitably, close.

Much like other unlucky coincidences (the Kennedy Curse, for example, which can mostly be explained away by high-risk behavior like skiing drunk backwards down a hill playing football, flying a plane without deep knowledge, becoming–or running for–President), my father's penchant for lesser known spots sans crowds combined with his love of oddball flavor profiles probably doesn't help his cause.

That said, Sawtelle's Tofu Ya is probably his favorite restaurant right now.  Hopefully it won't come to the same dark fate (knock on wood–it's always crowded, which my father forgives cause it's not unduly loud).  Still, you may want to head over there while you can, if you know what I'm saying.

(Tofu Ya Awning, Banchan, Bulgogi and Tea From Volcano Down The Way)

Tofu Ya is famous for their hearty tofu stew, which customers can order with varying levels of spice. T. joined me and my father on this last visit and she has a crazy love for all things spicy (the girl literally carries Tabasco in her purse).  So, she ordered one of the spicier versions, but the waiter eyed her skeptically.  "I can handle it," she promised, as my father and I nodded in assurance.  The waiter looked doubtful.

In fact, T. was totally happy with the spice, although she suspected that he gave her the medium, despite her order.  Either way, the food was inexpensive, tasty and not too heavy.  When I eat Korean food, the "Panchan" (small dishes of kimchi, pickled veggies like broccoli and sprouts, cold noodles and salad that automatically precede the meal) are my FAVORITE part.  You get to sample all these different tangy, spicy, sour and salty flavors, just when you're most ravenous.

I ordered the bulgogi (thinly sliced beef), which is always a favorite (especially at Andrew and my favorite Hollywood Korean BBQ spot, Dong Il Jang).  BTW–I'm dreaming of the day I utter that name and don't think: "The donger need food!"  Anwyay, the bulgogi was tasty over sticky rice and not at all gristly, which is always my fear.

After dinner we headed–past boutiques like Black Market and Giant Robot and other restos like Asahi Ramen–over to Volcano Tea, per my father's tradition.  I was psyched cause they make most of their Boba situations with lactard friendly non-dairy creamer, so I had honey tea with tapioca balls and was happy as a clam (though a bit amped up on caffeine).

Anyway, I plan to head on back as soon as possible.  Or at least before you people descend and my father starts complaining about the crowds.

xo – N.

P.S. Grubtrotters offers another Tofu Stew destination, Beverly Tofu House.  War of the tofus?  Battle of the bean curd?  I just love a good taste test, so that's coming soon!